Friday, January 29, 2016

Catching Up and Gearing Up


The KALs I'm doing all start on Monday (eep!), and I am super duper excited to finally be able to cast on for them. I am in the throes of trying to get some stuff finished so I can put most of my focus on my KAL projects, and I'm starting to feel a little buried.

1. I need to finish my Old Davis sample, (just a few more rounds!) then send the pattern off to editing land. I'm planning a short version as well, but it should knit up quickly, and I have the yarn for it already.

2. I have just a few more rows on the upper back of Que Sera, and I want to sew the buttons on quick so I don't lose them, and then this is ready to set aside for me to do the sleeves in a couple of months.

3. I promised Anemone a Portsmouth hat ages ago, so I really ought to get the yarn wound for that so I'm more likely to knit it while it's still hat weather.

4. I also promised my mum a skinny Kermit. Fortunately, the yarn for that came in balls already, so I really just need to cast on and remember that the skinny version goes really quick.

5. I'm halfway through an Outlander-Inspired Cowl and I really want it done so I can wear it while it's still cold. The knitting is very slow going, though. My hands are not meant to knit things this bulky.

6. I really ought to get all my KAL yarn wound so it's ready to go :)

Part of why I'm feeling so rushed is that I've gotten so little actual knitting done the past week and a half-that Super Cold really knocked me out for a few days, and I really couldn't have cared less about doing anything that wasn't sleeping or petting a dog. But now that I'm back together, I'm excited to get caught up and move forward!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

KALs, Socializing, and Shyness


Apparently I have poor impulse control, and I've somehow committed myself to three knit-a-longs that all start next Monday.

Seriously, Kat, pull yourself together.

I love the idea of KALs so much-everyone huddled around their computers, wearing their comfy pants and drinking fancy beverages, collectively ooh-ing and ahh-ing over each other's projects, giving each other tips on picking up stitches and tricks for keeping your colorwork even.

In reality, it usually turns into me knitting on my sofa, computer off, and then I finish, and maybe I'll post a picture in the FO thread, or maybe I won't, because I wasn't really engaged in the social/conversation part of the KAL, and who is this weird girl and why is her face in our thread all of a sudden?

Spoiler alert, I'm not very social. I've never really been, and I want to work on that more, but I have the unfortunate pairing of being hilariously introverted and painfully shy, and I could go talk to people or leave more adoring comments on people's things instead of just hitting "like," or I could stay in and watch crime dramas and eat soft cheese in my comfy pants.

I've always struggled with being shy and never feeling like I know what to say. I never talked in class, and I'm usually the quietest person in a group. I always feel like I don't know what to say, or when to say it, or how to say it, and most of the time I would rather have the ground swallow me up than have people direct their attention at me-which is rich, considering I do theater, and I sing, and I used to be in a band, and three days a week I come here and pour out all my thoughts for the world to see, and really I crave attention but I just don't know what to do with it.

Small groups terrify me. People actually knowing me and forming opinions of me terrifies me. I start feeling all chocked, and I get really tense, and it can take hours or days to calm down enough to feel like myself again. Instead of pushing myself to find a happy medium and actually create friendships that I will value and that will be beneficial and healthy for me, I chicken out and take the easy road of hiding in my house, making no noise, and pretending that I don't exist.

So I guess this is me pushing myself. I've come so far in the last two years-commenting on other people's blogs, making comments on people's Ravelry projects and in forums. There's just a bit more to go to get where I want to be, and I know I have to keep at it to get there. But it's hard, and it takes work and it takes time and there's no magic spell that can make it easier or quicker, and I know so many of you out there can relate to that.

BUT. This is me making my effort, and I'll hopefully soon have a little bit more experience talking to people that I don't know super-well yet as well as a pair of SpringTastic Socks, a From Another Place Crop Top, and my own little twist on Cherry Pie

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Care and Keeping of Your Stash


This post is intended for people who have just bought or adopted their first stash, but even longtime stash parents may find it helpful. If you are new to stashing, it is perfectly natural to feel a bit nervous, but there is a wide support network of fellow stashers who are willing to share tips and tricks. It is my hope that you find this new adventure enjoyable and pleasant, and that both you and your yarn have the most fulfilling relationship possible.

Being responsible for an entire stash can be an intimidating prospect, but do not fear! Your stash wants to make you happy, and with just minimal maintenance and training from you, your stash can become a good friend and companion for many years to come.

In the wild, stashes prefer dry environments out of direct sunlight. Get to know the personality of your stash, but many will be happy in a cozy den in a closet or a dim corner of a room. Some stashes are natural climbers, and you'll want to install plenty of shelving if that's the case for yours, so it can explore its new home.

Other stashes are lazier and would rather sprawl all over your furniture. It is important to set strict rules and boundaries with your stash while it is young, because once behavioral patterns have had a chance to establish it can be very difficult to re-train a stash. Allowing your stash free reign of its designated den and a few other delineated spaces in your home will give it plenty of room to wander and lie about without interfering with your lifestyle.

It is important to keep your stash away from direct sunlight. Some sun is fine, even healthy, for a strong stash, but just like us, your stash can be prematurely aged by too much sun exposure. Be sure to limit your stash's time in sunny patches, and keep an eye for any signs of dullness or fading, as those can be slowed by relocation to a darker habitat.

Stashes are also prone to infestation by any number of little parasites or other pests. Some of these can be warded off with pieces of cedar or lavender lining its den, but the best method to prevent your stash from becoming ill is to keep it in an airtight wrapping and do a thorough grooming twice a year.

To groom your stash, check over every inch for any signs of distress, aging, or infestation. Many stashes enjoy their owners' touch, so take this opportunity to pet your stash. Petting your stash also helps keep its coat free from dust and redistributes its natural oils, eliminating the need for harsher brushes or combs.

Most stashes are very playful creatures. It is likely that your stash will try to get your attention constantly. Pet it frequently, and praise it. It revels in your attention, and keeping it happy with small, frequent displays of pleasure and affection will help prevent outright attacks for attention-it is not uncommon for a bored stash to jump off its shelf and hit its owner in a bid for more attention.

Thankfully, stashes can be occupied with a wide range of toys that are readily available to stashers of all economic brackets. Most stashes enjoy spending time with a swift or ball winder, and nearly every stash can be pleasantly distracted with small notions such as buttons, ribbon, beads, and toggles.

As I mentioned earlier, it is very important to get to know the personality of your own stash, and that you allow it the proper room and attention for it to grow to its best potential. Your stash already thinks that you are the most incredibly person in the world. It will always be loyal and faithful to you, and with just a little bit of effort and attention on your part can turn your stash from a new acquaintance to a cherished lifelong companion. Congratulations, and enjoy the journey.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Cold from Hell


I hope you all are staying welll-I've appeared to come down with the Cold from Hell, so I don't know how much I'm really going to get around to this weekend. I have a new sewing project planned, and a pile of library books to read, 23 knitting projects I could work on, and a whole Netflix queue to stream. But let's be real, I'm probably going to sleep.

There is a small pile of yarn that's been looking at me funny for a few weeks, so I may try to fit in a winding party to get those skeins ready to go, but I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't get around to it. My plan for the next few days is to just take things easy and hopefully rest enough to kick this cold's butt!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Le Bear Polar


What you see right there is a polar bear.

Yes, I understand that it doesn't look especially much like a polar bear, but bear with me.

I've been charmed by Holly Priestley's Polar Bear Pullover since it came out, and finally the charm just got too overwhelming and I came down with a really bad case of OMG GOTTA CAST ON RIGHT NOW.

So I did what any reasonable person would do and I moseyed over to the WEBS site to fill a bag up with some Arroyo, and there's a delay on the color for the sweater portion of this sweater. I'll get it soon, and their customer service is the absolute best, and then I'll get to cast on and everything will be beautiful and woolly.


On an aside, I've already christened this sweater "le bear polar," in deference to the comedic genius that is the BBC Radio 4 series "Cabin Pressure," and the episode where Benedict Cumberbatch talks about a polar bear in a terrible French accent.

Since it's Wednesday, I suppose I'll mention some of my WIPS. Que Sera has most of the body done-I'm scant rows away from finishing the left front, then it's just the right front and back. I'm not feeling super into sleeves right now, and it won't be warm enough to wear for several more months, so I might just churn out the body and set it aside to finish in April or something. Whatever.

The aggressively yellow Winter Helmut is still sitting in stasis waiting for me to get past the sleeve division, and I really need to sit down and fight with work on that more so I can actually wear it before it gets too warm.

My Audrey in Unst is started, but I've decided to change the waist shaping and lengthen the body, so I need to think a little about that. Plus 242 stitches in fingering-weight 1x1 twisted rib turns out to be a real PITA and it's taking forever, so again, whatevs. There's another dozen-ish (or more) projects floating around, but they're not sweaters so I really don't care about them right now. (Don't tell them I said that, I'm sure I'll come back around soon.)

Off in not-knitting land, one of my office mates has been out and I've been taking care of her plants, and I think I've killed one (in my defense, I think it was sick, and she knew my history with killing plants before she left).

Monday, January 18, 2016

One Rule


I try not to talk about my design process too much here, because I mostly feel that this is a space for all of us to be besties and talk about knitting and stuff, but designing is something I do, and sometimes I want to talk about it in a more in-depth way than just, "Look, here's a thing I made up!"

I have one rule for designing: I have to enjoy it. I have to enjoy the idea, I have to enjoy the process of making it, and I have to enjoy the finished project. I believe that knitting should be charming and enjoyable, and I believe it should result in something that you or someone you care about will like and use. Sometimes I get swept up comparing myself to other designers, though, and I get distracted from that rule. 

I've had this yarn for a while, and I've played with a couple of different ideas for it. I had one idea that I was pretty sold on-another cowl and infinity scarf, straightforward and pleasant to knit, very much "me," and stemming from an inspiration very close to my heart.

Then I started second guessing myself. I thought, "I should try a new construction that is really overwrought and more difficult than it needs to be." I got swept up in overthinking everything and I forgot my one rule and I started something that was absolutely not me and I resented it.

After fighting with it for a couple weeks, I frogged it and cast on for my previous idea, and it has been a completely different experience. I am enjoying this so much more, and it feels more right than whatever I was trying before. It's difficult-so many of us struggle with perfectionism, and then to take it a step further and question what in fact makes perfection can be paralyzing. 

It's so easy for me to remind my friends that no one else can make the things that they make, and that even when what they do feels inferior, it has value and merit, but it's so easy for me to forget that about myself. It feels so good to really be working on a design again-now that I'm feeling newly focused and I've turned this project around, I couldn't be more excited for the rest of the things I have planned for this year. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Yarn, It Calls to Me

I have a habit of picking up yarn at thrift stores. Whenever I see something that isn't 100% acrylic, I inevitably end up bringing it home with me. I've gotten a pretty decent variety of stuff this way-some Louet Euroflax, some Brown Sheep, a ball of Icelandic stuff-for just a couple dollars a ball.

There's been nine balls of Lion Brand Cotton Ease in one of the shops here in town for a couple of weeks, and I could only hold off so long before bringing the lot home. Now, I don't normally go for cotton or acrylic except in certain circumstances, and this yarn had me a bit baffled. It has most of the properties I'd associate with cotton, except it doesn't really stretch out like cotton has the tendency to-that would be the acrylic holding it in place.

It's not a fiber mixture I'd usually work with, but it's definitely a good lightweight blend-I have a store-bought summer sweater that's almost this exact fiber blend in a different weight. So there I was, with nine balls of yarn that I had no idea what to do with.

I was pretty sure I wanted a sweater, so I started in the Ravelry pattern database looking for adult sweaters in worsted weight. I went through every page of results, but I was hampered by the fact that I didn't really know how the yarn was going to behave. I knit a swatch, and it didn't tell me too much.

Then I moved onto the yarn page and pattern suggestions. I made it through every page of that before switching my search to "projects done in cotton ease that are adult sweaters." Then I went even further, into the general Ravelry database for "adult sweaters worsted weight in cotton or acrylic."

Through all that, one pattern continued to stand out to me-Que Sera. I'm not the first person to knit this sweater from this yarn, so that gives me some hope.

All that goes to say-I have approximately 20 other sweaters I should be working on before this one.


Whoops.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

FO: Drift (or, The Rainbow Connection)


Yes, it's done. Around the middle of last week, I realized that if I went to town on the second sleeve I'd have a decent chance of getting this sweater done within a month. Throw in a couple of marathon sessions, and I finished this up Saturday afternoon.

I'm so freaking happy with this-it's a perfect light layer, but it's super warm. I lengthened the sleeves significantly, because what's the point in having long sleeves if you can't make sweater paws with them? I skipped the ribbing at the end of the sleeves and just did a purl bindoff after the last purl round. On the sweater body, I swapped out the 2x2 ribbing for 1x1 twisted rib because I like how it looks.

Around halfway through the first sleeve I started referring to this sweater to myself as the Rainbow Connection sweater, which is an obvious nickname, but certainly a fitting one.


Ravelry Page: Drift
Pattern: Drift by Kristen Finlay
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock "Reggaeton"

In other knitting news, I'm trying really hard to keep my sweater WIPs to a reasonable number. Apparently my Sweateritis isn't letting up, and despite having a nice variety of things on the needles right now, all I want to knit is sweaters, and I'm really terrified of burning out and being stuck with 15 sweaters in various stages of completion.


Monday, January 11, 2016

The First FO of the Year


Right at the tail end of 2015 I got a hankering for a hat. I've been planning on knitting Talus, but I hadn't gotten around to winding the yarn for that yet (but I did wind it yesterday, so that hat is on deck!). I'd had this tosh DK wound for a couple months while I tried to decide what to do with it, and when the hat bug bit me I pulled it out to cast on a Maple Slouch. (Fun Fact: We actually had a ton of maple trees in my yard when I was growing up-our street was called Maple Lane, and we easily had a dozen trees or more just in our lot.)

I love this yarn so much-it is probably the most aggressively bright yarn I own, and I'm pretty sure this hat is going to be my "walking at night so cars can see me" hat. It's really bright, and the lace and garter stitch pattern really adds to the character and charm. (Apparently everyone else in my house hates this color, but they can all have fun on Being Wrong Island while I hang out here in my awesome new hat.)

It worked up pretty quick-I certainly could have knit it up in a Saturday if I'd worked on it monogamously, but I had other pressing things on the needles (namely, Drift). It was definitely nice to have something small to pick up and put down over the new year, and this was definitely a welcome break from my sweater projects.


Ravelry Page: Maple Slouch
Pattern: Maple Slouch by Holly Priestley
Yarn: madelinetosh tosh dk "Neon Peach"

I hope you all had a great weekend! I'd hoped to get a lot of reading done, but I ended up just marathoning Murder, She Wrote and Mythbusters trying to get Drift finished. C'est la vie. I'm not hitting a January knitting slump like I did last year, which is great, but I keep getting distracted by all the fun projects I have planned!

Friday, January 8, 2016

All Better: No Boyfriend Sweater


I finished this (for the second time!) a couple of weeks ago, but it took me a while to actually get pictures taken. Guys, I love this so much better now that it's hip-length. I've already worn it to work twice, and around the house a couple times.

I ended up adding three total lace repeats to the length, and it hits exactly where I want it to now. I also threw in a slip stitch crochet reinforcement around the inside of the neckband to give it a bit more stability-I love this neckline, but it felt a little too stretchy, and I didn't want to worry about it sagging out off my shoulders. It's so much easier to wear now, and I can really appreciate how comfortable it is. I'm pretty sure I've worn it more in the past three weeks than I did in the previous three and a half years, so this was definitely a great fix.


Ravelry Page: No Boyfriend Sweater
Pattern: Not Your Boyfriend's Sweater by Vera Sanon
Yarn: Hobby Lobby I Love This Cotton! Print

Anybody have exciting plans for this weekend? Mystic was a champ at the vet the other day, but he's having trouble leaving his paw alone, so we'll be snuggling a lot so I can keep him from irritating it, and I have a bunch of yarn to start winding up for upcoming projects. I also stocked up at the university library, and am currently in the middle of The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, which  I started reading a few years ago online, and am finding every bit as enjoyable and engaging as I did the first time.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Swatchie Swatch


While I was cleaning this week I stumbled across my Fall 2015 Knitscene and a couple of skeins of the Japanese Silk I got in the Great Northern Knits Kickstarter that I'd wound up for swatches a couple of months ago, and I sat down right there on the floor and knit the swatches for my Cormac Sweater.

This yarn has no information on the band at all except that it says it's all silk, but by eyeing it I thought it would have to be held double, so that's how I knit my first swatch, and...it turned out too big. I'm honestly surprised, but this yarn has a unique structure that I want to try and talk more about another time, so I re-swatched with the yarn held single, and it was spot on.

 I'm so excited for this sweater, and it's going to be really difficult for me to wait until Drift is done and not cast on OMG RIGHT NOW.


In the non-knitting part of my world, Mystic broke his dew claw somehow, so I'll be bringing him to the vet later to get that sorted out. We'd hoped that our groomer could take care of it, and I brought him in yesterday for her to look at, but it's broken so far down she had concerns about causing pain or risking infection. 

Monday was also my seventh Diabetes Anniversary, so of course I had to make cake. This year I went with a single-layer white box cake, and I made strawberry cream cheese frosting from this recipe. We usually make this cake (with two layers, and more strawberries sandwiched in the middle) for Midsummer, but I'd been craving it for the past week, and it's really hitting the spot.

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 Knitting Goals


(I never blogged this hat, but I needed a picture for this post, so here it is. The pattern is Oakenshield Armored, Ravelry page is here.)
 
I've been thinking a lot over the past few weeks about what I want to accomplish in 2016. While I was working on my 2015 retrospective, there were a few things that stood out to me, and I'm working on how to approach that in the coming year.

In 2015, I was immensely disappointed to find out that I only knit three pairs of socks. I'm hoping on upping that this year-I have two pairs on the needles right now for Mum that I'd like to get done, and two skeins of sock yarn that I've identified for cinema socks, and then I'd also like to finish my Darjeeling socks of the Yeti Incident done, and as a bit of a stretch, maybe knit Bowties are Cool, Snape's Stockings, and Dumbledores's Christmas Stockings this year.

Socks Goal: 8 pairs

I also want to do a large lace project this year, but first (and I'm carrying this over from last year), I really would like to finish my Rose Medallion shawl. I have one knitting friend who took ten years to knit a lace shawl, and I don't want that to happen to me. I know it's a bit much to try and finish this year, but if I can get the medallions knit, I can do the corners, grafting, and border in 2017. Right now I have 6 out of 16 medallions knit, so that should be a reasonable goal. As far as the new project, perhaps either Dew Drops or Echo Flower-I've been planning both for a while, and have the yarn for both, so we'll see what I feel like-maybe I'll be really industrious and get both done!

Lace Goal: 1 shawl, 10 medallions

Of course, I'm using up stash yarn for those things so I can afford sweater yarn! I have all of my Sweateritis sweaters going, plus I also recently scored some yarn on sale for an Emelie, which I've had queued forever. I also have five sweater designs planned for this year, and a new sweater for my mum, so between all that I'm going to be buried in cozy sweaters for a while.

Sweaters Goal: 10 sweaters

And then there's the stash. I have a few yarns that I'd like to knit up-ones that I've identified for my sock and sweater goals, especially. I'd love to knit up my Irish yarn from my friends' trip to Ireland last year-I think it's going to be a Guernsey Wrap, and I'm really excited for this. Then there's three skeins of alpaca that a college friend brought be from Russia that I think would be perfect in a 3 Color Cashmere Cowl. I'd also like to knit up some of my Jitterbug stash-I love those yarns so much, but I rarely knit them up. I took it upon myself to trawl the Ravelry database to find the perfect patterns to use up a couple skeins each, and I found Byatt and Sun Kissed. I'm really excited for both of these, and I've already picked out colors!

Stash Goal: 10 projects/14 yarns (5 socks, 1 sweater, 2 shawls, 1 wrap, 1 cowl)

I'm also hoping to get some more skirts and  warm-weather tops knit this year-I have several queued, but I'm not going to set any firm goals for those yet.

I feel good with this list-I've definitely identified the things that I plan to knit, and I've taken steps to make up for areas I didn't knit in as much last year. Some of these goals are a bit ambitious (TEN SWEATERS??), but there's still room for flexibility-one thing I learned from making some knitting goals last year was that I made it about one project in before I cast on something impulsive, so I know I like having flexibility in my plans.

Hope you're all having fun planning your 2016 knits, and may this year hold lots of woolly goodness for all of us!

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Pattern: Breony


Happy New Year! I am super duper excited to ring in 2016 with a new hat pattern for you all!

Breony is the perfect hat for long meandering walks in the woods. Knit from your favorite bulky yarn, the featured diagonal rib provides a strong point of focus without being overwhelmed by crazy color splotches. Inspired by bare tree branches in late fall and winter, Breony is an enjoyable knit that works up quickly.


As always, the pattern contains written and charted instructions, and is available both on Ravelry and in the wayward knitter pattern store. Breony is also available as part of a kit through The Dyeing Arts. If you would like a kit, please visit thedyeingarts.com to request one.

Hope you all had a very wonderful New Year's full of celebration!